Dam construction and demolition decisions confront many communities today, and, like many environmental issues, they often appear impossibly complex. As this week’s cover story reports, while dams may be seen as a cleaner way to generate electricity and a common way to store scarce rains for later use, they also wipe out existing ecosystems, cause erosion, block fish migrations, and endanger downstream communities. Turning to the Scriptures and prayer can provide the inspiration needed to clear the confusion and find resolution.
The Bible, from the gathering of the seas in Genesis to the river of life in Revelation, shows – often in symbolic terms – God’s omnipotent, harmonious governance and sustenance of all creation.
Starting prayer with God as the creator of all lifts thought to perceive that our source is eternal and good. The “river of water of life” (Revelation 22:1) perpetually flows to sustain life, not submerge or subdue it. Praying – communing with our creator – keeps us conscious of life’s eternality, and opens our eyes to see life-sustaining solutions at hand.
Continuing prayer with God as governor of all lifts thought above power struggles and competing resource demands to recognize God’s harmonious control. Christ Jesus proved this when he awoke in a wave-washed boat and stopped a storm with a prayerful “Peace, be still!” (Mark 4:39). Acknowledging God’s infinite power impels mutually beneficial solutions.
Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy’s spiritual interpretations of biblical terms includes a definition of “river” that is helpful in praying about water issues: “River. Channel of thought. When smooth and unobstructed, it typifies the course of Truth; but muddy, foaming, and dashing, it is a type of error” (“Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” p. 593).
When our communities are deciding whether to build or remove dams, the nature of our thought is important.
If we’re “foaming and dashing” at one another, we won’t be calm enough to see others’ perspectives or hear God’s guidance. But as thought becomes “smooth and unobstructed,” as it can through prayer, it allows for clearer reflection, willingness to listen to others, and a greater receptivity to the flow of ideas from God.
Another recent Monitor article tells how a community listened in the midst of almost-collapsed negotiations and then made constructive choices about which dams to remove and which to enhance. The results are both restoring fish runs and generating more electricity.
Such outcomes can become routine as we all pause for inspiration and let God’s river of good flow into our deliberations and onward to sustain all creation.